How to Make Sure Your Kids Grow Up to Be Energy-Conscious Adults
Do you know that, according to the DOE, the United States uses up energy worth nearly a million dollars every minute? We have gotten so used to having energy available at the flick of a finger that we find it difficult to believe that most of its sources are fast-depleting.
As future citizens of tomorrow, it is important for our children to be conscious of the world that they live in and their responsibility towards it. As their parents, it is up to us to inculcate that habit in them right from their childhood. Here are a few tips for you to bring up your kids as responsible, environment-friendly, energy-conscious leaders of tomorrow.
1. Good habits start from home
I know, children are too young to understand energy issues and the need to tackle them but the fact is that children are more astute and intelligent than what most adults give them credit for. True, ozone layer depletion and Arctic ice melting might be too difficult preschoolers to grasp, but applying the principles of “waste not, want not” are not.
Inculcate good habits in your children right from the beginning by teaching them to switch off lights and fans when they move out of a room, to cut down on screen-time in favor of physical activities or other games, to use both sides of a paper before tossing it in the dust bin, to not leave the refrigerator door open and to turn off taps while they brush their teeth. Small steps for sure, but as they say, every little bit counts towards a better tomorrow.
Children will also be more receptive to your instructions if you explain why it is important for them to do so. Explain the role of trees in producing oxygen, protecting land from soil erosion and providing a natural habitat for several species of birds and animals and then tell them how the same trees are cut down to make their notebooks. Show them how you are saving energy by hanging clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer.
Kids above the age of 10 can check out the EnergyStar website to learn more about energy-saving measures at home. You can also talk to older kids about how fossil fuels, which are present in finite amounts, are being used for producing the most commonly-used sources of energy and how it is our duty to conserve them as much as possible. Help them make green choices in their daily lives, be it in the choice of their clothes, toys or food.
2. Lead by example
Parents are their children’s first role models. If your children see you toss used batteries and CDs in the dust bin, dump plastic and wet waste together without properly separating them or leave the car running while at a red light, they are not going to accept your dissertations on the importance of saving energy.
Show them how you are saving energy by reducing timing your hot-water showers or by using the office car pool instead of driving to work every day. Practice what you preach or you’ll soon find yourself short of followers!
3. Make it fun
Make it a family activity and ask your children to come up with suggestions on saving energy around the house. Involving them in a family effort will make them feel responsible and ‘grown-up’ and encourage them to pitch in. Promise a family outing or picnic if you manage to bring down your home’s energy consumption by a certain amount by the end of the month.
Children learn the most when a concept is taught through fun and games. Touchstone Energy’s Kid Energy Zone website has many games, videos, activities and stories that teach your kids how they can save energy at home through a few simple steps.
Instead of hanging out at the mall next weekend, take your children camping or exploring a local nature preserve. If your destination is close by, consider taking out your bikes. If not, make sure that you use public transport. Encourage them to be responsible for looking after a plant. Inculcate in them a love for nature and the rest will take care of it by itself!
Designate an electricity-free hour every week where everyone in the family has to switch off their tablets, mobiles and laptops and spend quality time together. Read stories out aloud, indulge in some gardening, sing silly songs or just play some board games or Scrabble. Let your children decide what they want to that one hour as long as it does not involve the expenditure of any form of energy, unless it is their own! You can even decide to have your dinner out in the garden or go for a walk around the neighborhood during this time. Both cost nil when it comes to energy. Teach your kids to enjoy the ordinary wonders of life without the distractions of the modern world.
4. Reuse and Recycle
Encourage them to reuse your old milk cartons, cardboard boxes and tins for their school craft projects. Explain how recycling helps in preserving natural resources and saving energy as manufacturing something from recycled materials always takes lesser energy than making it from scratch.
Join or start a toy library in your locality where your children can donate their old toys and borrow new ones from their friends.
5. Go local, go green
The next time you go to the supermarket, take your kids along. Let them see you buy local produce and food items that utilize lesser packing material. Explain how you are saving on energy expended in packing, transporting and storing foodstuffs when you buy foodstuffs which have been manufactured locally.
The habits that you teach your children at a young age are going to last them a lifetime and help them grow as energy-conscious adults of tomorrow. You will know that you have succeeded in your mission when your son tells you to turn down the knob on the gas stove next time.
Kurt Jacobson is a surfing enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 10 times in the past 7 years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he's not out shredding waves he writes about homes for househunter.co.
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